Two Australians, including a 15-year-old boy, changed their pleas to guilty
in a Hong Kong court on Tuesday, about eight months after they were
arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin to Australia.
Hutchinson Tran, an unemployed 21-year-old, and Chris Ha Vo, a 15-year-old
fast food worker, reversed their original not guilty pleas when they
appeared at Hong Kong's High Court.
A third defendant, 17-year-old hairstylist Rachel Ann Diaz, was not in
court and was not expected to change her plea, said prosecutor Catherine Ko.
The three Australians - all from Sydney - were arrested on April 12 with
701 grams of heroin.
In court on Tuesday, Tran said he had arranged for the two others to act as
"mules" who had been expected to swallow 114 heroin-packed condoms and
smuggle them from Hong Kong to Sydney.
The drugs would be worth about HK$325,000 ($A53,320) on the street in
Australia, Ko said.
Tran faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted of drug
It remains unclear what penalties the two minors, Diaz and Vo, might face.
The three's trial is to begin on April 3 before a seven-member jury.
Police have said Tran is accused of being part of an Asian criminal gang
who allegedly arranged the drug shipment.
Prosecutors have previously said the teenagers had been recruited with
offers of $A200 for each packet of heroin they swallowed before flying home.
According to prosecution sources, Diaz changed her mind and refused to
swallow the drugs moments before narcotics officers burst into their Hong
Kong hotel room in the downmarket Tsim Tsa Tsui tourist area.
They have been held in custody ever since.